One of my favorite movies is Despicable Me. Oh my word...Gru. I love him. “Assemble the Minions” makes me smile every time. I feel like Gru when it’s time to get jobs done at the house.
Periodically, a mom will ask, "How do you get your kids to do chores??" Well, gentle reader, I don’t GET them to do chores. I TELL them to do chores. There’s this magical word that puts me in charge here: Mom. Sometimes I think we forget that we’re the adults, and we’re in charge. I think we are nervous that our kids will not like us or will not enjoy their lives as much. Do YOU enjoy being a glorified housekeeper? Yeah, me neither. It’s also so much easier to just do it for them or give in to their complaining. But listen here, Mama, that’s not doing anyone any favors. It's time to woman-up and lay down the law. It may seem tough at first, but you got this.
Sadly, I only have two minions...a nine year old boy and a seven year old girl. As I type this, one of them is cleaning up their constantly messy room. One of them is much too busy being social and prancing around the house to keep a tidy room. One of them is super artistic and never "has time" to clean up. I say this in order to reiterate the fact that my kids aren’t perfect. I’m not either, and I don’t claim to be. BUT I’ve managed to create an atmosphere of team work and responsibility in my kids, and I’m pretty happy about that. A big reason I established a job system for my kids was that I HAD to. I was struggling with undiagnosed pain, post part depression, and loneliness. I NEEDED my kids to help, even though they were really little. Whatever your reasons may be it’s never too late, or early, to start.
Here are my tips to teaching your kids responsibility and team work:
1. Establish what you’re NOT: the maid. Let them know that things are changing. You will not be picking up after them constantly and doing everything for them. They need to learn to be responsible for things around the house. You will not be doing all.the.things anymore. Their technology and screen time should now become a privilege. We’ll get to that in a minute. Let them know that this plan will free up a lot of your time so you can do FUN things with them.
2. Establish what you ARE: in charge. Sometimes parents are scared to be too authoritative. Don’t be. Kids want to know what's expected. They want boundaries. Don’t be intimidated by this.
3. Establish a chore/job system. First, decide who will do what. Age appropriate job charts can be found on the interwebs, and I recommend finding one you like. Don’t be shy about having your 4 year old clean a bathroom. Oh friend, your kids can do so much more than you think. Mine have been scrubbing toilets since they were 5. And they love it. Little weirdos. Second, find a system that works for you. Look at Pinterest or figure something out on your own. I used straws with pictures of the job on the end, and it worked great.
4. Establish a pay rate...BUT NOT AT FIRST! Hear me on this. Kids need to feel responsible. Let them know they won’t be paid but that they’ll gain privileges. Again, technology is a privilege. Use their technology as a tool to get things done. “You may have 15 minutes on your iPad if you’ll do your jobs CHEERFULLY.” When you’re in a good rhythm of them getting their jobs done, begin paying them very small amounts for each job. Then you have the opportunity to teach them about money management.
Mama, make life easier on yourself and teach your kids valuable life skills at the same time. You won't regret it. I'm really hoping that when my son gets married and knows how to do laundry, his wife will adore me forever. Wishful thinking. Until then I'll assemble my minions, and we'll get mess done.